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Accession Number PB2013-100914
Title North Pacific Right Whales in the Southeastern Bering Sea.
Publication Date Jul 2012
Media Count 181p
Personal Author A. N. Zerbini A. S. Kennedy B. K. Rone C. L. Berchok J. L. Crance P. J. Clapham
Abstract The North Pacific right whale (NPRW) was heavily hunted between the 17th and the 20th centuries, when it ceased to be the principal target of commercial whaling (Omura, 1986; Scarff, 1986, 2001; IWC, 2001; Clapham et al., 2004). Protection was supposedly afforded by international treaties in the 1930s and 1940s, but the illegal harvest of hundreds of individuals by the Soviet Union, primarily in the 1960s (e.g. Doroshenko, 2000; Ivashchenko et al., 2011, Ivashchenko and Clapham, 2012) drastically impacted the recovery of the species. After some debate and a failed attempt by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to list the NPRW as a unique species, genetic work by Rosenbaum et al (2000) and Gaines et al (2005) demonstrated that the NPRW (Eubalaena japonica) is a separate species from the North Atlantic (Eubalaena glacialis) and southern (Eubalaena australis) right whales. The official species designation by NMFS was implemented in March 2008 (73 FR 12024, 06 March 2008). One month later, in accordance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) mandates, NMFS designated a NPRW Critical Habitat (73 FR 19000, 08 April 2008) in the southeastern Bering Sea (SEBS; Figure 1), and one just south of Kodiak Island, Alaska. The location of these habitat designations was based on NPRW sighting densities after 1996 (73 FR 19000, 08 April 2008). Any activity that may affect the critical habitat (including, but not limited to, oil and gas exploration or drilling, fishing, mining, pollutant discharge, and military training) must complete an ESA Section 7 consultation through NMFS. The existence of two discrete stocks of NPRWs has been proposed: a western population that is found in the Okhotsk Sea and in the north-western North Pacific Ocean, and an eastern population that spends the summer in the SEBS and the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) (Clapham et al., 2004; Shelden et al., 2005). The eastern stock was heavily exploited by pelagic whalers beginning in 1835, and the population was seriously depleted by 1900 (Brownell et al., 2001; Scarff, 2001). Sighting data from the mid-20th century suggested that a slow recovery was occurring (Brownell et al., 2001). However, the illegal killing of 529 whales by Soviet whaling fleets in the Bering Sea and the GOA in the 1960s drove this population to near-extinction and may have compromised its long-term chances of recovery (Brownell et al., 2001; Ivashchenko and Clapham, 2012). Today, the eastern population of the NPRW is the most endangered stock of large whales in the world (Clapham, 1999). Recent abundance estimates based on photo-identification and genetic mark-recapture data collected during this and other projects suggest that nearly 30 individuals inhabit the southeastern Bering Sea at present, only a third of which are are females (Wade et al., 2011).
Keywords Effects
Endangered species
Federal programs
Fisheries
International Whaling Commission(IWC)
Marine mammals
National Marine Fisheries Services(NMFS)
North Pacific Right Whale(NPRW)
Populations
Southeastern Bering Sea
Subsistance(Food)
Whales
Whaling


 
Source Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Minerals Management Service
NTIS Subject Category 47D - Biological Oceanography
48B - Natural Resource Management
57H - Ecology
Corporate Author Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note Final rept.
NTIS Issue Number 1309
Contract Number COMNOA/CN-M07RG13267

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